How To Make Your Own Gear Ties

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How To Make Your Own Gear Ties

I make my own gear ties for use around the house. They come in very handy for cord management or even using in the shop for extension cord organization. Watch my video about how to make them, and keep reading for even more details.

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

Below is a list of tools and supplies you will need to make these: (affiliate links)

Scissors

Lighter

Paracord

12ga aluminum wire

10ga aluminum wire

Diagonal Cutters

BACKGROUND

The idea for these handmade gear ties came from a friend of mine when he showed me an Instructables article he had seen. I took a look and wanted to make some of my own. I find myself using them all over the place. Just when I think I have made enough to supply every need we have, I find more places I can use them. I even used one of them, bent into kind of an "S" shape to hand over the shower head, and the other side to hold my wife's razor. It fits perfectly there, out of the way, and easy to access. 

STEPS

1. Determine the length you want your gear tie to be. Cut the aluminum wire to that length. 

2. Measure your paracord against your aluminum you just cut. Be sure to leave an extra 1/2" on either side for extra room.

3. Pull the strings out of the inside of the paracord, leaving only the sheath. 

4. Take your lighter, and burn one end. Then, smash that end shut. NOTE: I like to use the scissors against the diagonal cutters to get a nice, flat spot. That way, the wire won't be able to slip out of the end. 

5. Insert the wire into the paracord sheath. Push it all the way down, removing any slack. I have found they are not as easy to use if they have slack in them, because the wire can slip around inside. 

6. Once you have all of the slack removed, hold where the wire ends and trim the paracord just past that with the scissors. Be sure to allow enough room to melt the final end of the paracord. 

7. Enjoy your more organized life using handmade gear ties!

Let me know in the comments below if you try these out and for what things you use them. I am always interested to learn new ways to use things that I make. 

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DIY Shiplap Walls

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DIY Shiplap Walls

Recently, we got the wild hair to add some accents to the walls in some of our rooms. Although we picked the wall colors about 3 years ago when we built this house, we are just not loving the light blue we chose for the kitchen and master bath. Let me clarify, we actually do still like the color, but there is just too much of it. We had too many rooms done in that color, so we decided to change it up a bit. 

Inspiration

We like to watch the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, and if you've ever seen it yourself, you are familiar with the term "shiplap." Chip and Joanna Gaines keep things surprisingly simple, yet never cease to wow with their finished product. Many of the homes they restore are from the turn of the twentieth century, so they have "bones" that more modern houses don't have. Often, they will tear into a wall, only to find shiplap buried inside. They pull the boards off, salvage them and end up using them as the main walls for a farmhouse look.  

 We like that look. We want that look.

VIDEO

Take a look at the video I made about this process below and keep reading the written article that follows for even more detail:

 

GETTING STARTED

So, I set about trying to make a materials list to really tackle this project. One thing I didn’t want to do is remove trim in the rooms that would have the shiplap installed. These walls already have sheetrock, so that eliminated using actual tongue and groove boards for the shiplap as they would be too thick. They would not look right with the trim if installed on top of the sheetrock, in my opinion. We needed a material that was thinner, but would still give the effect that we were going for.

A few years ago, I had seen this done here and there, and people had used very thin plywood. That was always in the back of my mind, but when I saw Jenna Sue Design Co. do this, I knew it would work best for what we wanted. Jenna Sue Design Co. has a blog that I have followed for years, gleaning inspiration for different things. She put out a video a few months ago on her YouTube channel detailing exactly how she installed shiplap in her master bathroom using plywood.

Looked simple enough.

I calculated the number of full sheets I would need in order to cover the two kitchen window walls and all of the walls in our master bathroom. I believe that number was 8. Jenna Sue recommended keeping the strips to just under 8 inches, so 6 pieces could be cut from a full 4’x8’ sheet of plywood.

I went to Lowe’s to purchase all of the materials, and have them cut the strips on their large panel saw. They don’t charge for this, and once setup, it would make quick work of these cuts. I get all of my plywood loaded onto the cart, go to the back where they keep the saw only to find a sign on it that says, “Out of Order.” Well, that’s a bummer. I might have gone to Home Depot (even though it is much further from my house) if I had known that before loading up the cart. I have the tools at home in my shop to make all of the cuts, but it would take me much longer to do that at home than it would them in the store.

Tools

Below are the tools and materials I used for this project: (Affiliate links)

Paint

Let’s move the conversation over to paint for just a few moments. Since we went with an off-white color for our trim, Sherwin Williams’ “Creamy,” we didn’t want to go with our original idea of just pure white for the shiplap. We felt like this would not be enough contrast at all, and it would end up looking like we tried to match the colors and just missed. Our next thought was a very, very light gray, since we are both very partial to that color,  and since it could make the room look large and open, having some subtle contrast with the existing trim.

We settled on "Tempered Gray" by Valspar, a shade or two lighter than another gray that we used on some walls upstairs and really liked.

Construction

Initially, I thought this could all be done in a weekend. Yes, the entire master bathroom and half of the kitchen. Seriously. What was I thinking? It ended up taking A LOT longer than that. Even just cutting all of the plywood into strips took me couple of hours total.

I started in the bathroom. I didn’t have a way to bring the miter saw closer to the master bathroom (it was the furthest away from the shop as any point in the house), and I really didn’t want to go through the trouble of taking it around to the back porch. Therefore, I walked a lot. A lot. I was going to try to make multiple cuts at once, but soon found out that they would not fit and I would have to walk back to cut it again. I realized that I could only measure one, go out and cut it, come back in and then install.

Steps

1. Mark the studs on the existing walls. This will make it easier when you go to install the shiplap later.

2. Measure the size for the strips, and cut to fit, starting at the bottom of a wall, working up. 

3. Sand the edges of your boards. I tried multiple methods, but it seemed to work best for me to hand sand with loose sandpaper on this particular material. When I used the orbital sander, it seemed to make the edges kind of fuzzy.

4. Install using an 18ga brad nail gun and 1 1/4 inch nails, trying to hit a stud as often as possible. If there is still some sag in between the studs, shoot in another couple of brad nails. This will draw it up to the wall and make it feel more sturdy. You’re not actually hitting anything with the brad nails except drywall, so if you put the nails in at an angle, they seem to grab a little better.

5. Use a couple of nickels as spacers in between the different rows of shiplap. Don’t put the plywood on the nickels too firmly though or you will have a hard time getting the nickels to come out. Trust me.

6. As you finish a row, have a paint bucket ready and paint the top of the previously installed row of shiplap and the nickel’s width of wall above it. This will save you time in the end once you go back and start painting it all. I tried it both ways, painting as I go and leaving it for the end, but painting as I went seemed to work the best for achieving the look I wanted. When I waited until the end, paint tended to get clogged in the gap, since it was so small. You don’t want this, because that shadow line is part of what makes this look so awesome. Also, I found it useful (as I did the kitchen later, having learned this lesson) to also paint next to the existing trim just a bit before you installed the shiplap. That way, if your shiplap didn’t meet perfectly to the trim (it hardly ever did…the trim varied a good bit, which was why I had to do so much walking and so many individual cuts), underneath would already be the finished color, and it would not stand out.

7. Keep going around the room until you have it all filled in.

NOTES

There were a few places that I did have to cut around sockets or door frames. I used my bandsaw for most of that, but you could easily use a jigsaw. I chose to take a little extra time to cut partial pieces around a door frame or other things, because it left the shiplap pieces more whole, and I thought that looked better where possible. Also, if you have some large, wide-open walls, try to stagger where the seams will be. This will look nicer. There was one large wall in our master bathroom that I didn’t do this, and I still don’t like how the seam in that spot is the same across two heights of shiplap. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but trust me, stagger them.

Things I Learned

A Little Extra Paint Goes A Long Way

While doing the bathroom, the painting and touch-up took a lot longer than the kitchen. I learned that if I would paint about half an inch beside all of the existing trim, it would be a lot easier when I installed the boards. I would not have to try to get paint down beside the pieces, without getting any on the trim. Plus, if some of them were a hair short, it would not really show, since the wall underneath was the same color as the shiplap boards. 

Straighten Your Sockets

If you use this method, you should not really have trouble putting socket covers back on. I did have one light switch that was a little deeper inset than the others, and it looked bad. I just took the cover back off and put some small wood shims under the switch housing to make it come forward a bit more. After that, the cover fits great!

Two Coats, No Matter What

No matter what paint companies tell you about the coverage of your particular paint, plan on doing at least two coats. I have painted a lot over the years and you can buy the $45/gal Valspar Reserve that has primer and paint all in one, claiming that you can get coverage with just one coat, or the cheaper Promar 2000 (which is the Valspar that I used) for about $22/gal, and you will still need to do two coats. I have tried this with at least four different brands and I have never achieved one-coat coverage.

Let me know what you think of this project, and I'd love to see if you put some shiplap on your own walls!

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Mail a Photo Instantly with POST

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Mail a Photo Instantly with POST

I don't know about you, but there are times I want to send a quick, physical card to someone. I don't want to have to remember to do it at home that night. Let's face it, I often just don't remember to do it. I have lists to remind me about my lists. Then, there's always buying the cards, making sure you have stamps...it's a whole ordeal.

Enter POST.

POST is a new app made by Social Print Studio, a company I've followed for years that helps you make quality prints of your otherwise digital memories. (I'm looking at you, Instagram.)

POST allows you to create photo post cards on-the-fly from the mobile app. And unlike many other photo card services, you don't have to buy a pack of 10 or more, just to place an order. Send one card, or send many, they're all just $1.99ea, including postage. No need to do anything else. 

A couple of weeks ago, they allowed some people to beta test POST, since it was not out until just now. I signed up to do that, and put it through the paces. I probably sent out a total of 20 or so cards, shipped anywhere from out of state to just down the hall at work. All of them arrived. All of them were well received. 

Quality

With many of these apps that promise physical products, one concern is the quality of the end product. I was especially curious about POST since I've ordered prints from Social Print Studio many times over the years, and have always been impressed with the quality. 

Well, these cards are no different. They are very high quality, and feel much like an old school post card. I have talked to many people who received cards from me, and they all seemed to be impressed with the print quality and the paper quality. 

How it works

1. Download the POST app (iPhone only right now)

2. Choose a template

3. Add your photo and customize the text

4. If you want to write a message on the back of the card, you will have the opportunity next. 

5. Choose a recipient. Here, you are able to add people to an address book that can be recalled next time. I really like this feature, because you're not having to add those people you will send to the most each time you use the app. Another thing I liked about the section where you add the recipient's address, they use Google or something, because as you start to type in the address, it will give you suggestions. Once you touch the proper one, it will auto-populate the rest of the blanks. You don't even have to type the city/state/zip most of the time!

6. All you have left is payment. The cards cost $1.99ea including postage. You can choose Apple Pay or pay with a card.

Other details

There are a few other things to note. When you order, you can expect your cards to arrive in about a week, or a little less. Pretty much all of mine that I sent had that timeline. 

If you would like to try this out, use the code MyFirstPost to get one free! This will only work for the next day or two, so give it a try!

Let me know your thoughts once you use it. Was it a quick way to send someone a note? Did you find it as useful as I did?

Until next time...

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